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    The Silent Successes of the Cuban Dissidence

    The Silent Successes of the Cuban Dissidence / Ivan Garcia
    Posted on February 7, 2014

    Before the olive-green autocracy designed economic reforms, the
    peaceful, illegal opposition was demanding opportunities in small
    businesses and in the agricultural sector as well as repeal of the
    absurd apartheid in the tourist, information and technology spheres that
    turned the Cuban into a third class citizen.

    General Raul Castro and his entourage of technocrats headed by the czar
    of economic reform, Marino Murillo, were not the first to demand changes
    in national life. No.

    When Fidel Castro governed the nation as if it were a military camp, the
    current “reformers” occupied more or less important positions within the
    army and the status quo.

    None raised his voice publicly to demand reforms. No one with the
    government dared to write an article asking for immediate economic or
    social transformations.

    If within the setting of the State Council those issues were aired, we
    Cubans did not have access to those debates. The tedious national press
    never published an editorial report about the course or changes that the
    nation should have undertaken.

    Maybe the Catholic Church, in some pastoral letter, with timidity and in
    a measured tone, approached certain aspects. The intellectuals who today
    present themselves to us as representatives of a modern left also
    remained quiet.

    Neither did Cuban followers of Castro-ism in the United States and
    Europe question the fact that their compatriots on the island had no
    access to mobile telephones, depended on the State for travel abroad or
    lost their property if they decided to leave the country.

    Who did publicly raise a voice was the internal dissidence. Since the
    end of the 1970’s, when Ricardo Bofill founded the Committee for Human
    Rights; in addition to demanding changes in political matters and
    respect for individual liberties, he demanded economic opportunities and
    legal changes in property rights.

    Independent journalists have also, since their emergence in the mid-90’s
    and, more recently, the alternative bloggers. If the articles demanding
    greater economic, political and social autonomy were published, several
    volumes would be needed.

    Something not lacking among the Cuban dissidence is political discourse.
    And they all solicit greater citizen freedoms, from the first of Bofill,
    Martha Beatriz’s, Vladimiro Roca’s, Rene Gomez Manzano’s and Felix Bonne
    ’s Fatherland is for All, Oswaldo Paya’s Varela Project, to Antonio
    Rodiles’ Demand for Another Cuba or Oscar Elias Biscet’s Emilia Project.

    The local opposition can be criticized for its limited scope in adding
    members and widening its community base. But its indubitable merits in
    the submission of economic and political demands cannot be overlooked.

    The current economic reforms established by Castro II answer several
    core demands raised by the dissidence. No few opponents suffered
    harassment, beatings and years in prison for demanding some of the
    current changes, which the regime tries to register as its political

    The abrogation of absurd prohibitions on things like the sale of cars
    and houses, travel abroad or access to the internet has formed part of
    the dissidents’ proposals.

    Now, a sector of the Catholic Church is lobbying the government. A
    stratum of intellectuals from the moderate left raises reforms of
    greater scope and respect for political differences.

    But when Fidel Castro governed with an iron fist, those voices kept
    silent. It will always be desirable to remind leaders that Cuba is not a
    private estate and that each Cuban, wherever he resides, has the right
    to express his policy proposals.

    But, unfortunately, we usually ignore or overlook that barely a decade
    ago, when fear, conformity and indolence put a zipper on our mouths, a
    group of fellow countrymen spent time demanding reforms and liberties at
    risk even to their lives.

    Currently, while the debate by the intellectuals close to the regime
    centers on the economic aspect, the dissidence keeps demanding political

    One may or may not agree with the strategies of the opponents. But you
    cannot fail to recognize that they have been — and continue to be — the
    ones who have paid with jail, abuse and exile for their just claims.

    They could have been grandparents who run errands and care for their
    grandchildren. Or State officials who speechify about poverty and
    inequality, eating well twice a day, having chauffeured cars and
    traveling around the world in the name of the Cuban revolution.

    But they decided to bet on democracy. And they are paying for it.

    Iván García

    Translated by mlk.

    6 February 2014

    Source: The Silent Successes of the Cuban Dissidence / Ivan Garcia |
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